Gliding at the Olympics

Recently on the Oldest Olympians blog, we noted an Italian competitor by the name of “Beselli” who took part in the gliding demonstration event at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and about whom we knew nothing. Diego Rossetti was able to discover that this competitor’s name was actually Mario Peselli, although he has yet to uncover full biographical data. Thus, since we have mentioned this topic, we wanted to go into a little more depth about what this demonstration event was.

(Depiction of Ignaz Stiefsohn)

As a competitive sport, gliding is the use of unpowered aircraft to fly long distances via air currents. The event at the 1936 Games was not ranked, but 20 competitors from 7 countries took part in demonstrations, although one, Austrian Ignaz Stiefsohn, died in a crash while preparing for the event. Of the other 18 competitors, we have biographical data for 15 of them.

(Peter von Lerch)

For the remaining three, we have full names for two of them, and even a picture of one: Austrian Peter von Lerch. Von Lerch remained active in the sport until at least World War II, although we do not have any additional information beyond this point. Another, Aleksandar Stanojević, who represented Yugoslavia, has a common enough name that we were not able to find any specific biographical details for the glider. For the final competitor, Gerbrecht of Germany, we have only a surname.

Finally, on the topic of “almost Olympians”, in a previous blog entry we mentioned French boxer G. Guillotin, a reserve in the light-heavyweight division at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, about whom we knew nothing. Thanks to research by Connor Mah, we now know that he was Georges Guillotin, born December 20, 1906 and died November 9, 1983.